April 12th, Spring 2018 - a time where the flowers bloom, the air is riddled with pollen, insects fly everywhere annoying the living hell out of you and teenagers run hither and thither to find themselves a soulmate before their virginity clocks sound off.
It seems as if, when you turn a certain age during adolescence, you're obligated to find yourself a partner before your high school days are over. Hapless idiots run all over the place, looking for dates, sending love letters, buying flower bouquets and making chocolates, especially in my school, Shirohana High.
The name translates loosely to white blossom or flower, but to me it signifies the conclusion of my high school years. Purity and innocence don't really last you a lifetime, so when the school shouts it's motto of "Look to the future and brighten up everyday," it seems very pretentious to me and to almost half the students here.
My name is Kanari Kikojo, I'm a 17 year old, 3rd year high school girl, and I'm on the brink of insanity with how much love is in the air at my school.
Everywhere I walked, every corner I turned and every intersection I walked past, there it was. Some wide eyed, conventionally attractive, generic looking teenagers sucking each other's souls out. Boys would whisper sweet nothings into their partner's ears, while the girls giggled incessantly, that you'd swear they swallowed a mouse whole or something.
Sometimes I wanted to go deaf in order to not hear them anymore, that's how bad it was. But I'm getting sidetracked.
As per usual, I sat in the window seat near the back of the 3-4 classroom, because that's what edgy kids do nowadays, looking at the endless sky with stars in your eyes, means you want more in life than what you originally had planned for.
Cheesy sentiments aside, let's begin my story shall we...
I stared listlessly out the window, as birds flew high above the school building and past a tall tree, the clouds parted into the blue sky like waves in the sea and I waited patiently for classes to commence, so that I could continue my mundane routine of going to school everyday and waiting for the inevitability of adult life.
My red satchel bag was sitting on the floor zipped up with all the necessary books for my upcoming classes, my long wavy auburn hair stopping near my mid back was messily blowing in the wind since someone left the window wide open, my dark green eyes stared sleepily at the bright sunny day trying to wake me up from my drowsiness, my uniform consisted of a white long sleeved shirt, a maroon blazer with white buttons, a dark black skirt so short that I think the school was run by a closeted pervert, red knee length socks, black loafers and a black and red stripped ribbon bow tied around my collar to add some cuteness to the look, I guess.
I also wore a pair of black, rectangular framed glasses and a black band on my head with a white and black stripped bow on the left side, since it was a present from my father for my 16th birthday. It's the most precious gift he ever gave to me before he... get over it, Kana.
I don't like talking about my personal life, since it was just me and my hopelessly idealistic mother living in a tiny house located in the town of Odahori close to the school. Ever since my father's passing, my mother was scrambling for a full time job and was turned down so many times, you'd think companies were either overstaffed, sexist or just wasn't looking for employees due to budget cuts or something.
Long story short, my mother was struggling to pay the bills, she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown, we had to sell our old home, move to a cheaper place, transfer me to a new school and I did my best to help out my mom during these tumultuous times, with what little time I had left in high school.
But today was going to change my life for better or for worse, why you may ask?
Today marked the first day of my last year in high school and I was so happy that it was almost over, I screamed aloud when I woke up seeing the date on my calendar this morning. While most kids dread the idea of leaving school and finding jobs with high paying salaries, I had plans for the future that would not be changed no matter how much people begged me to reconsider.
After school today, my plan is to head over to Jueisha and present my upcoming idea for a new story that is, hopefully, going to be published in Weekly Shonen Hop.
While most girls my age default to finding a potential husband and becoming a rich housewife with about three kids under their belts, I wanted to become my own independent person and start my career as an amateur mangaka in the most popular magazine, in Japan, for young adults and teens.
Oh no, you might be saying to yourself, a young girl who is average in looks and has no interesting qualities about her whatsoever, is not looking for a soulmate! Someone call the police, this is taboo and should be eradicated ASAP!
You might also be thinking, wouldn't I be better suited to writing for a Shojo magazine instead of something oriented for the young male demographic?
Firstly, that's a stereotype I aim to erase from the manga industry, but then again most mangaka are men, so what did I expect.
Secondly, I always found Shonen series to be more exciting and realistic when it comes to romance and relationships.
Lastly, I'm female, so making the girls realistic and cute at the same time might garner more brownie points from fans, and since I know how girls act and think, it might set a higher standard for how most females in shonen manga are written compared to their contemporaries today.
Despite how battle heavy most of the manga in Shonen Hop is, amongst all of the testosterone and action scenes, I loved finding that hidden gem of a story that was simple, yet romantic in nature like Nisekai and Two Like Ra.
I originally wanted to make a battle series, but after further contemplation, I realized that I couldn't draw action scenes to save my life, so I went with the most obvious, romantic comedy, story instead.
I spent most of my childhood drawing unique character designs, practicing different coloring methods, using effective shading techniques and even developed my own original backgrounds based off my childhood hometown where I used to live, before my mother and I moved here unexpectedly, due to her finally finding an area with available jobs.
My series is called "Royal Pain," a Romantic, Adventure, Comedy that's about a spoiled, playboy prince who gets cut off from the family treasury, after throwing multiple extravagant parties in the royal family's castle, and is sent to an elite boarding academy for kings and queens in training, teaching every student about proper etiquette, financial management, diplomacy, special magic classes, war strategies and knight training for the guys and cotillion dancing, dress fitting and damsel in distressing for the girls.
He arrives at the academy, on his first day, only to get himself and another new student in trouble with the school's strict headmaster, who is a stickler for the rules. The girl he bumps into is from the countryside, and won the privilege to attend the academy through a luck of the draw raffle that the entire kingdom's villages participated in, and is a sassy, energetic girl who only wants to support her starving family and maybe earn some recognition from the royal family to aid in her village's problems.
From there, he falls in love with her spunky spirit and southern charm, she is painfully oblivious to his advances, they struggle with tough classes and adamant teachers, they go on multiple adventures outside of school, encounter dangerous creatures on their excursions and then lo and behold ensue love triangles, harems, rivals and fighting off an evil sorcerer who wants to overthrow the academy for kicking him out for something he was framed for.
Sounds interesting, right! Yeah it's another generic fantasy romance plot, that makes all the girls wet with glee, but if it's published in Weekly Shonen Hop, then not only will girls find it intriguing, it might entice male readers to buy the volumes and chapters as well.
Which all culminates to a hefty sum of money being sent to my door and straight to my mother to help pay the bills and make ends meet.
It's a win-win, my mother stops harassing me to get a part time job, she pays the bills and I get my creative stories exposed to the world and maybe get praised by the masses for how relatable the story is and how likable the characters are.
I even took the time out of my schedule to draw a one shot for the project, when my mother was busy searching for a new job, over the weekends when I was home alone. I never went outside of the house ever since the move, I couldn't be bothered to greet my neighbors let alone make friends, because I spent so much time with my mother that I kind of lost the will to socialize and start over from scratch.
My sad lifestyle choices aside, once today ended, I was going to take the train after school to Tokyo and submit my work to an editor, who will hopefully take a liking to my series and maybe sign me up for manga competitions in the future.
As the bell rang for homeroom, some students dispersed from their friendship circles to go to their seats, while others rushed from the bathroom with a flustered look on their face as the teacher walked into the room, a middle aged man who was dressed business casual and looked like he regretted all of his life choices based off his sullen countenance and bags underneath his eyes.
"Good morning everyone, settle down now," he said in a disgruntled tone.
As he called roll, I stared blissfully ignorant at the scenery outside of the window, as one of the Sakura petals scattered throughout the wind landed on my desk gracefully.
"Talk about good luck."
SIX MORE PERIODS LATER...
Finally, that took ten centuries! Ms. Suzuko really knows how to drag a Math lecture till after the bell rings, ugh...
With all my belongings in check, I packed my bag, made sure that my sketches were in order and before I could exit my desk with a faithful grin on my face. It soon faded like a good dream, because of one person's voice.
I heard an unfamiliar male voice call out to me, as I stopped what I was doing and turned to see an unfamiliar face, accompanying the voice.
"I'm glad I caught up to you before you left."
I was slightly rattled by someone, other than my mother, calling out to me as I jumped a little and maintained my calm composure as to not look crazy.
"I'm sorry I have an appointment in an hour, whoever you are, it's nice to know you exist," I said bluntly to him.
"Oh, don't worry, this will only take a few minutes," he said with a confused look on his face after hearing my weird comment, but then switching to a confident expression once I started speaking with him.
Upon further inspection, he appeared to be almost athletic in stature and body, he was very handsome looking, his skin was a slight tan color from exercising in the sun, his hair was dark brown with messy short spikes, chocolate brown eyes that almost sparkled when you looked at them up close, he wore a confident smile that almost blinded me into submission, he seemed well built with a hint of muscle in his frame and he wore the school's soccer uniform consisting of a dark blue soccer shirt with the school's name on the front with the number 12 on his back, white shorts, blue knee socks with his shin guards slightly visible and black cleats with white stripes on the side.
"I don't have time for this, so make it quick..."
"Thank you! I'm Tatsuya Hideaki, by the way!" he exclaimed, "Are you free Friday night? I was wondering if you'd like to go out to see a movie with me...or maybe go out for dinner?"
"Woah slow down, buddy," I say halting his momentum, "As much as I appreciate the offer, basically asking me out on a date, I will happily decline."
"I'll pay for all the expenses!" Tatsuya said bowing his head, "I'll buy you a dessert as well!"
I stopped after hearing that statement, free food and whatever I want!? Tempting, but not right now!
"Please call me Tatsuya," he said giving me a thumbs up and smiling with an enthusiastic wink.
And we're on a first name basis, already? Oh well, it doesn't matter, who cares at the end of the day.
"Tatsuya, you seem really sweet, but I'm just not interested in dating at the moment, sorry."
He looked almost disappointed as the smile on his face disappeared and he lowered his gaze to give off a sad puppy look, probably begging me to give him a shot.
"Can I at least get your number?" he said persistently, regaining his motivation to ask me out.
This boy... I then looked at my watch, noticing the time was 3:15 PM.
"Oh crap!" I said grabbing my stuff hurriedly, "Excuse me, but I have to go."
"Nice to make your acquaintance, Tatsuya, but leave me alone please, I have somewhere else to be!"
I rushed out of the school as I caught a glimpse at two other guys dressed similarly to Tatsuya, resting their backs against the walls, but one of them had orange messy hair, and the other a buzz cut hairstyle.
I booked it out of the school, grabbing my belongings from my slipper locker, as I changed into my outdoor shoes and rushed into the brightly lit afternoon, embracing the warm air brushing against my skin.
I walked out of the classroom dejectedly as Kikojo left me hanging, not accepting my offer and making me look like an idiot in the process. Damn it, I came off too desperate! Tatsuya, you moron!
"Well?" the orange haired boy said, "Did you get her number, at least?"
"No," I pouted, "She was late for an appointment and had to leave early."
"Told you, Kyousuke," the buzz cut boy said to the orange haired boy, "You owe me a thousand yen."
"Aww man, why do you have to be so greedy, Eiji?"
"We made a bet, dumbass, now cough it up."
As those two duked it out, I looked outside the classroom window, to see the dark haired girl with glasses leave my line of sight as she faded into the streets filled with cherry blossom petals falling to the ground. But that's alright, I'll continue to ask her even if she finds me annoying.
It's the only way to repay her for saving me...
KANARI'S (MAIN) POV:
I bolted for the train station, pushing through crowds of people and eventually making it in time before all the trains were filled. Luckily for me, I grabbed an available seat and gazed excitedly at city, long in the distance from where I was.
Today was going to change my life, for better or for worse...
Is my life going to change once I step foot in Jueisha HQ? Is my work going to be published before I graduate? Am I going to earn a living doing this part time? Am I...going to be successful?
As one random author once said, "A writer is by nature a dreamer, a conscious dreamer...or a naïve go getter."
Don't quote me on that...